Maison Hullibarger was a popular teenager, an A-student, and a member of his high school’s football team, so his suicide came as a shock to friends and family.
What happened during the teen’s funeral was even more shocking.
Family members are slamming Rev. Don LaCuesta for repeatedly referring to the boy’s suicide during the funeral service, condemning his cause of death and suggesting that Maison would not be going to heaven because of it. As the Detroit Free Press reported, LaCuesta had met with family members before the funeral and took some notes on what they wanted to be discussed, but did not honor the family’s wishes.
“We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died,” Maison’s mother told the Detroit Free Press.
LaCuesta had other ideas, family members said.
“It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, (and) we couldn’t believe what he was saying,” Maison’s father said.
Jeff Hullibarger, the teen’s father, said the message was so upsetting that some of Maison’s friends left the church sobbing. Jeff said he even went up to the priest during the homily, telling him to stop, but the priest continued to deliver the anti-suicide message. LaCuesta reportedly questioned whether Maison Hullibarger had repented enough to go to heaven after his death.
“People told me there was almost a smirk on his face,” Jeff Hullibarger said.
After he finished his message, Rev. Don LaCuesta did not allow the teen’s parents to deliver a eulogy that they had prepared and that LaCuesta had agreed beforehand to let them deliver. They needed the funeral director to halt an organist and allow them to speak to others in attendance.
Family members took their concerns to leaders of the local Catholic diocese, which issued an apology. But Maison’s father said it isn’t enough and wants Rev. Don LaCuesta removed from the parish.
‘Father, please stop’: Parents horrified after priest used teen’s funeral to condemn suicide - The Washington Post ‘Father, please stop’: Parents horrified after priest used teen’s funeral to condemn suicide The Washington Post— Ayubi (@Shikai32) December 15, 2018
When Maison Hullibarger … https://t.co/bFxTkNkXbF
As the Detroit Free Press noted, the Catholic Church has long had a stance against suicide, often denying to hold funerals for people who have taken their own lives.
There was more controversy at the teen’s funeral. Family members said Maison and other members of the football team were bullied by the school’s coach, Jeffrey Wood. Family members requested through a friend that Wood not attend the funeral, but he showed up anyway. Family members asked him to leave, but Wood later posted a “sneer” at the family on social media, the Detroit Free Press reported. Wood was later fired, the Toledo Blade added.